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Customer Review

10 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars symphonist, not, 29 May 2012
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This review is from: Symphony No.9 (Audio CD)
For the sleeve-note to suggest that Glass is the most important American symphonist, or the most varied anywhere since Beethoven, is nonsense, and an insult to every other 20th century symphonist. Sadly, this is the now usual re-hash of everything old-Glass, the same tricks simply played on different combinations of instruments (some unpleasantly strident), the same unvarying rhythms. To my ear there can't be more than 10 minutes - at most - of truly new material, some of which, to give it its due, is quite interesting, but almost everything else we have heard before in one guise or another. I'm not a musicologist, so can't be sure, but I wonder if this piece is technically actually a symphony, though whether it is or not doesn't make the experience any more pleasurable.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Jun 2012 21:05:58 BDT
Last edited by the author on 14 Jun 2012 19:23:53 BDT
Vaughan says:
I recently listened to this, and while I feel differently about it, I can't counter your arguments. As such, this is a good and fair review. The thing is, it's the familiarity that can be part of the attraction, assuming you're predisposed to Glass in the first place. I have a friend who feels as you do, not to put too fine on a point on it, he thinks it all basically sounds the same. Which I guess is the nub of your problem with this piece.

As for Glass being "most important American symphonist", point taken. Glass sure had become a popularist in the field, hasn't he? I find myself playing Reich and Adams more often myself (along with Palestine, Conrad, Niblock). But on the other hand, I just bought the 10 disc Glass retrospective!

In the end I like Glass, it's undemanding in many ways, yet not shallow. But I just wanted to say that while ultimately I disagree with your overall opinion on this disc (I like it and find it worthy), I did find your comments were truthful and fair.

Posted on 8 Jun 2012 18:59:03 BDT
Macbeth says:
Glass's music is incremental, so each piece is a progression from the last. There's definite development though: compare the early, more austere pieces with this and they're very different works. I'd say this is one of his best symphonies - especially the complex, polyphonic central movement. I do wonder though, since half of the reviews you've published on this site are very negative reviews of Glass's music, why do you keep on going back for more? Once most people decide they don't like something, they tend not to buy and listen to more of that composer/performer's output!

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Jun 2012 19:38:20 BDT
Heebee says:
in the case of this 'symphony' it was a matter of letting a review convince me I was wrong. Wish I had been - I like Glass a lot, and own the bulk of his opus, but it just seems to me that the last two pieces (Sym P & Cello Concerto) have taken him almost nowhere he hasn't been several times before. I really don't think I should have to rehearse what any composer wrote 40 years ago in order to find anything fresh.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jun 2012 09:43:34 BDT
Macbeth says:
I think you're confusing the melodic themes in this work with structure. I'm not a massive fan of many of Glass's symphonies, which have often seemed a little forced and at times clumsy. This and his eighth symphony have really broken new ground for him though on a FORMAL level. Melodically? Yes, it's similar to many of his other pieces, but Glass's music has never really been concerned with melody, though he's been making increasing use of it in recent years. It's like the attractive wrapping on a present though - superficially pretty but not what his music is really grappling with.
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